• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

RME ADI-2 FS Version 2 DAC and Headphone Amp Review

maverickronin

Major Contributor
Joined
Jul 19, 2018
Messages
1,125
Likes
1,012
Location
Midwest, USA
I am wondering, are there any reasons to consider the ADI-2 Pro FS over this unit? I got offered a very good deal on a demo unit, but as far as I can tell the differences are the AD capabilities which do not concern me, and potentially double the output in balanced mode (do any headphones really need more than 1.5W of output?).
If you don't need the ADC then it's probably best to go with the DAC instead of the Pro.

There are only a few headphones which can make user of more power than the DAC has single ended.
 
Joined
Jun 27, 2020
Messages
30
Likes
12
Hello fellow objectivists :) Long-time (very long in fact) lurker, finally decided to register to this wonderful resource of a forum and community, so first time poster.

I understand the 'v2' AK4993 chipset version of this DAC is what's in the channel now, and the easiest way to differentiate is by the looks of the remote. It appears the retail packaging front picture shows the new remote on the v2 AK4993, correct ? Is there any way to identify by serial number as well ?

Thanks!
 

Olli

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 6, 2018
Messages
259
Likes
145
I am wondering, are there any reasons to consider the ADI-2 Pro FS over this unit? I got offered a very good deal on a demo unit, but as far as I can tell the differences are the AD capabilities which do not concern me, and potentially double the output in balanced mode (do any headphones really need more than 1.5W of output?).
One important reason (at least it was to me): The Pro is a Multi-Channel DAC. You can use the Headphone Jack to drive e.g. subs on top of your mains. And there are 4 more channels if you are connecting additional external DACs via SPDIF and/or AES.
 

Chuu

Member
Joined
Jun 27, 2020
Messages
13
Likes
3
I never understood the desire for balanced headphones either. Seem like headphone blend circuits are more useful. With headphones anything over 30db of channel separation is overkill IMHO. It is true balanced gives you the potential for more power with a limited supply rail, but as you said, this thing has plenty of swing.
When balanced headphone amps were first starting to become a thing, the reasoning was that single ended only "pushed" the signal into the drivers, while with a balanced signal there was "push" and "pull" which meant greater control over the driver even at the same power level, which translates into better transients. If HeadRoom is up on archive.org I could probably find the full explanation they gave for this on their site.

And I'm going to admit, it's an incredibly convincing metaphore. Way back then the high end HeadRoom amps were defininetly on my list specifically because of the balanced outputs. It was a huge differentiator in their product, and with Tyll's position in the community quickly became a feature that separated low and high end solid state headphone amps in people's minds. Which means other manafacturers started to add it to their high end products.

I have no clue what the current reasoning is among the believers, or if this still persists in the background. Really I think that it's just a checklist item on some people's endgame lists these days, without too much thought given into how it got there.
 
Last edited:

wynpalmer

Active Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
107
Likes
99
I do, for measurements.
I do, to drive a pair of benchmark AHB2s. Analog inputs are from a 15IPS tape deck and a balanced MC phono stage.
  1. Dual 4499 (go all out)
  2. 4 Pin Balanced Headphone Out
  3. Bluetooth 5.2 Input (proper LE Support along with the latest codecs in the works)
  4. 10 or 15 band PEQ
  5. WiFi Streaming
  6. Built-in Player with SD Card/External Storage support (Idk why there aren't more of these)

The reason I ask for that last one is assuming the 4 Pin gets made, the screen size might increase. Would be a great cover-art display.
RME (Mattias) commented on their forum that the implementation of the AK4499 (presumably to their standards), would be too expensive. (>$3k)
https://forum.rme-audio.de/viewtopic.php?id=28717
I'd go for it if it was available in the PRO version.
 

Matias

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 1, 2019
Messages
969
Likes
1,168
Location
São Paulo, Brazil
RME (Mattias) commented on their forum that the implementation of the AK4499 (presumably to their standards), would be too expensive. (>$3k)
https://forum.rme-audio.de/viewtopic.php?id=28717.
"The 4499 is the absolute top-of-the-pops AKM superchip, and costs a fortune. You will not see any units below 3,000 $ having it implemented."

Forward to 2020 and we have Topping D90 (700 usd) and SMSL M400 (800 usd), both cheaper than the ADI-2 DAC. :)
Yes, the RME has more features, DSP and headphone out, etc, I know. But still. I suppose this ">$3k" remark would be related to adding it to the ADI-2 DAC along with everything else.
 

Tks

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 1, 2019
Messages
1,691
Likes
2,175
Location
NYC
I do, to drive a pair of benchmark AHB2s. Analog inputs are from a 15IPS tape deck and a balanced MC phono stage.


RME (Mattias) commented on their forum that the implementation of the AK4499 (presumably to their standards), would be too expensive. (>$3k)
https://forum.rme-audio.de/viewtopic.php?id=28717
I'd go for it if it was available in the PRO version.
If it came with the features listed, that's not a bad price to be perfectly honest. They would still be in a league of their own because for whatever reason, outside of Chord(though Chord unfortunately simply uses it mostly to drive an exceptional filter) and RME, no one seems to want to make any much use of FPGA's for custom DSP in an all-in-one package.
 

wynpalmer

Active Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
107
Likes
99
"The 4499 is the absolute top-of-the-pops AKM superchip, and costs a fortune. You will not see any units below 3,000 $ having it implemented."

Forward to 2020 and we have Topping D90 (700 usd) and SMSL M400 (800 usd), both cheaper than the ADI-2 DAC. :)
Yes, the RME has more features, DSP and headphone out, etc, I know. But still. I suppose this ">$3k" remark would be related to adding it to the ADI-2 DAC along with everything else.
Yes, I was aware of the cheaper implementations- that's why I added the "to their standards" aside. An ADI-2 PRO FS R HR (HR for high res) for $3k would be a no brainer in my book, and would just confirm that the audiophile addiction to constant upgrades is still compelling.
 

Matias

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 1, 2019
Messages
969
Likes
1,168
Location
São Paulo, Brazil
Double the size of the unit, add the AKM 4499 chip, 1/4" and 4 pin XLR headphone output while keeping the DSP goodies for double the price at 2300 usd? I bet it still would sell well.
 

wynpalmer

Active Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
107
Likes
99
When balanced headphone amps were first starting to become a thing, the reasoning was that single ended only "pushed" the signal into the drivers, while with a balanced signal there was "push" and "pull" which meant greater control over the driver even at the same power level, which translates into better transients. If HeadRoom is up on archive.org I could probably find the full explanation they gave for this on their site.

And I'm going to admit, it's an incredibly convincing metaphore. Way back then the high end HeadRoom amps were defininetly on my list specifically because of the balanced outputs. It was a huge differentiator in their product, and with Tyll's position in the community quickly became a feature that separated low and high end solid state headphone amps in people's minds. Which means other manafacturers started to add it to their high end products.

I have no clue what the current reasoning is among the believers, or if this still persists in the background. Really I think that it's just a checklist item on some people's endgame lists these days, without too much thought given into how it got there.
The fact that it is a two wire system means that there is no "push pull", there is only a voltage across the transducer with a consequential current flow produced. From an electrical perspective how does the headphone know where the "centre tap" is for it to be "viewed" as push pull?
Is the implication that there is some mechanical bias in the system that remembers the initial state and has some kind of "DC offset"? If so, how does that work with open backed headphones, for example?
 

wynpalmer

Active Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
107
Likes
99
Double the size of the unit, add the AKM 4499 chip, 1/4" and 4 pin XLR headphone output while keeping the DSP goodies for double the price at 2300 usd? I bet it still would sell well.
Add the ADC for another $700 or so and put me at the top of the queue to buy one...
 

Matias

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 1, 2019
Messages
969
Likes
1,168
Location
São Paulo, Brazil
@MC_RME hi does the output impedance change with each gain setting, both on line level and on headphone outputs?
 

VintageFlanker

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
1,505
Likes
3,076
Location
Paris
It appears the retail packaging front picture shows the new remote on the v2 AK4993, correct ?
Correct. Again, if you buy a brand new ADI-2 DAC right know, it will be a V2. The V1 is sold out since November-December 2019.
 

KSTR

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Sep 6, 2018
Messages
515
Likes
1,188
Location
Berlin, Germany
@MC_RME hi does the output impedance change with each gain setting, both on line level and on headphone outputs?
Why do you assume it might do so?
The answer is, no it doesn't. Even if the gains of the final output stages are switched with certain Ref.Levels settings this will result in only microscopic closed-loop output impedance changes, miliohms worst-case. Trace and Relay resistance could easily dominate. And the line-outs have 100 Ohms break-out resistors anyway.
 
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
27
Likes
10
Hi,

this is first time I'm posting here - I'm getting new RME ADI-2DAC FS - and I keep seeing this whole version 2 mention. So is RME ADI-2 DAC FS is version 2 or within RME ADI-2 DAC FS there are version 1 and version 2 ?

my second question is - currently I've HEDDPhone, HifiMan Arya, Audeze LCD-X, Focal Clear & Audioquest Nighthawk and NightOwl. Is RME ADI-2 DAC FS powerful enough to drive this headphones or I need separate AMP for this ?

My current AMP/DAC is iFi iDSD Micro BL and I'm looking for upgrade from that.

Thank you in advance.
 

VintageFlanker

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
1,505
Likes
3,076
Location
Paris
So is RME ADI-2 DAC FS is version 2 or within RME ADI-2 DAC FS there are version 1 and version 2 ?
Both are called ADI-2 DAC FS. Still:
Again, if you buy a brand new ADI-2 DAC right know, it will be a V2. The V1 is sold out since November-December 2019.

Is RME ADI-2 DAC FS powerful enough to drive this headphones or I need separate AMP for this ?
Absolutely.
Will have serious doubts about the HEDDPhone (pretty low 87dB sensitivity), tho...

My current AMP/DAC is iFi iDSD Micro BL and I'm looking for upgrade from that.
It definitely is.:cool:
 
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
27
Likes
10
Both are called ADI-2 DAC FS. Still:




Absolutely.
Will have serious doubts about the HEDDPhone (pretty low 87dB sensitivity), tho...


It definitely is.:cool:

thank you that was helpful. I was confused as the review says Version 2.0 - and it is not certain how to find out if one you are getting is version 2.0 or version 1.0 as naming is not clearly a differentiator here. One I'm getting is from eBay from authorized dealer, so I just wanted to make sure that I'm not getting previous version DAC being sold as latest generation.
 

VintageFlanker

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
1,505
Likes
3,076
Location
Paris
thank you that was helpful. I was confused as the review says Version 2.0 - and it is not certain how to find out if one you are getting is version 2.0 or version 1.0 as naming is not clearly a differentiator here. One I'm getting is from eBay from authorized dealer, so I just wanted to make sure that I'm not getting previous version DAC being sold as latest generation.
Ok, on Ebay, you can get some used units or so... You may differenciate boxes that way:

V1:
Box---RME-ADI-2-DAC.jpg


V2:
20191128_183612.jpg
 
Top Bottom